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Emotions and Your Health: Anger by Al Duncan

Emotions and Your Health: Anger by Al Duncan
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“Be not hasty in thy spirit to anger: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.”
–Ecclesiastes 7:9

The year was 1979. A seven-year old boy was in the living room, sitting in front of the TV, playing with some of his toys. After a commercial went off, the little guy jumped up full of excitement. He could hardly contain himself as one of the most famous lines in television history filled his ears.

“Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.”
With unbridled enthusiasm and putting on his best angry face, the little guy spun around towards his father- who was sitting on the couch near him- and roared, “Yeah, Dad. Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry!”

The little guy’s face was so twisted and contorted that his father burst into laughter. Thinking that his father needed more convincing, the little guy started ripping off the t-shirt he was wearing.

The father sat there for a split second in disbelief. His amusement turned to anger. “Boy! What in the world is wrong with you?!”

With his play anger morphing into fear, the little guy meekly replied, “I…I’m The Incredible Hulk, Dad.”

“If you ever tear up your clothes like that again you’re going to get an incredible butt-whuppin’!”

The little guy in this comical story was me. And that was the first and last time I put the shirt ripping routine into my Incredible Hulk impersonation.

When I was growing up, in my mind, getting angry always seemed to lead to one of two results. Either people thought that you were the cool, super-hero, tough guy (or woman) type that wasn’t to be played with or they thought you were the overly sensitive, mindless buffoon moonlighting as a bully type.

Regardless of what you or I think about anger one thing is for sure. It’s one of the most dangerous forces in existence.

Nations have been practically destroyed, countless souls laid to rest, and many harsh words have been regretfully uttered because of anger gone unchecked.

Although many people, especially t-shirt ripping Incredible Hulk fans, are probably well aware of the damage that anger can cause in the external world, few individuals truly understand the detrimental effects that anger can have on the internal world. When not understood and managed properly, anger can completely dismantle your well-being.

But before we explore some of the negative effects of mismanaged anger, know this: under normal circumstances anger is a vital tool for motivation and communication.

When you get frustrated (a form of anger) because of a sub-par performance or lack of achievement, it’s your frustration that can be the motivation to do better.

If you feel as if you, a loved one, or something you value (such as your car, your pride, or a belief) is being threatened, then out comes The Incredible Hulk to warn the violator to back off…or else. 

Self-esteem and respect are also examples of intangible things people value that are often re-affirmed as a result of displaying anger.

In spite of all the positive aspects of anger, when suppressed or overly expressed anger can wreak havoc on your well-being.

Redford Williams, director of behavioral research at Duke University Medical Center, says that every time you get angry more epinephrine (adrenaline) is released and your blood pressure increases.

Well, did you know that high blood pressure could erode the walls of your arteries the same way a raging river erodes its banks?

Heart attacks are being linked with overly expressed anger and strokes are linked with suppressed anger. Many experts believe that the occurrence of strokes in women is higher because according to many cultures it isn’t “lady-like”(whatever that means), for women to express their anger.

A review panel on coronary prone behavior and coronary artery disease (CAD) came to the conclusion that the effects of hostility (a state of mind in which angry thoughts and feelings are deemed necessary for protection from perceived threats) are equal to and possibly greater than the effects of high serum cholesterol, cigarette smoking, and high blood pressure.

Hostility is bad for your health. Period. So, how hostile are you?

You might be surprised by some of the things that can feed your anger. Quickly answer yes or no to these questions.

Are you a coffee drinker? Do you have asthma? Are any of your friends bodybuilders? Has anyone you know been depressed lately? Are you still thinking about going on a diet?

Certain drugs such as caffeine, steroids for bodybuilding or asthma, other medications for asthma, antidepressants, and diet drugs can make a person more irritable and prone to getting angry.

And of course the number one cause of consistent rage is hanging around stupid people who do stupid things. Sorry, kiddo, I can’t help you out with that one.

But if you want a few tips on effective anger and hostility management read my next article on emotional mastery- Taming the Beast: 9 Keys for Mastering Your Anger.

In the mean time, if someone or something is driving you bonkers, before you do your best Incredible Hulk impersonation remember the two lessons you learned today.

One, It’s bad for your health. Two, don’t rip up your t-shirt; you won’t like your dad when he’s angry!

Copyright 2006 Al Duncan Enterprises. All rights reserved.

Al "The Inspiration" Duncan is America's Leading Youth Empowerment Advocate, a self-development expert, and a World-Class Youth Motivational Speaker. Visit him online at Youth Motivational Speaker

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